Belle was my favorite of the Disney princesses—she had brown hair and brown eyes, just like me. Previously, the princesses I had encountered had either golden tresses or raven-black locks. Belle also had her nose in a book and was always clumsily bumping into things, something else I related to.
I loved Beauty and the Beast so much that I wanted to have a cake topper of Belle and Beast on my wedding cake the first time down the aisle, but my older fiancé nixed it as too childish, although he allowed me to hang a Beauty and the Beast poster in our bedroom.
Note my intentional use of the word “allow.” Our relationship mimicked the romantic theme of “girl falls in love with a man who has an anger management problem, but their love heals his beastliness and turns him into a kind prince.”
Except in my case, it didn’t work out that way.
Beauty and the Beast wasn’t the only place I was fed this storyline—I also read plenty of Harlequin Romance novels in my teen years, and they often featured the man with an explosive temper calmed by the woman who loved him. I believed wholeheartedly in the power of love. Maybe because it was the only power I had.
Now, I have neither seen nor spoken to my first ex-husband in 17 years, so it is certainly possible that the love of some other woman melted his anger and revealed the kind prince underneath. All I know for sure was that my love didn’t fix him, no matter how much I wanted it to.
I tend to think major changes like that can only come from inside the person themselves. I don’t think we really can heal other people, no matter how much we want to, and so the Beauty and the Beast plot line gives me pause. If I could tell my younger self one thing, it is that if someone makes you feel small and afraid, run from them, no matter how much you love them or how nice of a castle they have.
I am not saying people don’t change. I certainly have changed a lot from the girl I once was, and I know other people who have gone through amazing transformations, but it took a lot of hard work and a forthright desire to become someone different. Dancing in a ball gown—no matter how pretty—was never the magic cure.
So although part of me is dying to see the newly released Beauty and the Beast, I don’t think I will. Instead I will re-watch Frozen, where the love of the sisters is paramount. I like the soundtrack more anyway.
But if they have majorly revised the plot, let me know, okay? Belle is still my favorite princess.